do yourself this favor

“Favored is the one who reads the words of this prophecy out loud, and favored are those who listen to it being read, and keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3 CEB)

It’s not the words “favored” or “prophecy” that capture my attention. Nor is it even the phrase “for the time is near.”

It’s the phrase “out loud.”

Have you ever tried that? Reading Scripture out loud? To yourself?

It helps. Big time.

Reading silently to yourself was not a common thing in the ancient world. You probably didn’t have a copy of Scripture and so, if some word of God came to you it typically came through someone speaking it out loud to you. It was “a holy moment.”

Aside from reading stories with small children, the brief (token?) readings of Scripture in church gatherings, and perhaps a few other occasions, we’re just not accustomed to carving out significant time to sit and listen to something being read to us. That is our loss.

But it need not be. Try this. Today. Perhaps right now. Carve out five minutes of time for you to be completely alone with zero distractions and read aloud to yourself the description of the one speaking to John, the Lord, in Revelation 1:12-18.

Read it out loud completely through one time to yourself. Read it as you would normally read something. It will take you about sixty seconds or less.

Then read it through a second time, out loud, this time quite deliberately, giving your mind time to ponder the meaning of each word. Put yourself there in the scene. Imagine yourself as John, the one who wrote these words and experienced this experience. Experience these words yourself.

Now read the passage one last time, aloud, this time speaking the words with emphasis, as if you were doing an oral interpretation and addressing a crowd. Vary the speed and volume along with placing emphasis on various words and using pause for effect.

Do all three of these readings back-to-back, aloud, with your mind fully focused on what is being said. Pause a moment, letting what you’ve just read – heard – settle into your mind and shape your spirit.

And now, only now, are you ready to pray.

Lord Jesus, you are purity and power. You are all of my hope and help. You are the one who delves into my heart and you are the only one fit to direct my ways. So be it.


this went thru my mind

Beauty: It’s a subject we don’t talk about much, but Elizabeth Taylor‘s death this week ought to make us talk about it. What is a Christian perspective of physical, human beauty? Christian film critic Josh Larsen’s post entitled Elizabeth Taylor and the Blessing of Beauty could serve as a good launch for that conversation.

Bible translations: I’m an unabashed fan of the Common English Bible and am glad to learn that the CEB OT is now complete. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy in a few months. The CEB is Complete!

Book: Straight to my want list goes this book, thanks to this review, Introverts in the Church, and I suspect it will have the same effect on some of you who are introverts at heart.

Church attendance: Here’s a chart of Church Attendance in England, 1985-2005. I have to wonder, given how the U.S. seems to follow so many trends of England, whether or not we might also be looking at a similar chart of Church Attendance in the United States, during say 2010-2030? Time will tell.

Japan: (1) Japan: After Empathy, and Aid, People Want Answers by John Piper, (2) Brian McLaren’s Faith Beyond All Answers: A Response to John Piper’s Theodicy, (3) The God Who Suffers in Japan, and (4) CNN poll Few Americans Believe Natural Disasters are Signs From God.

Parenting: Brian Mashburn’s Living in the Moment will not fail to resonate with any parent worthy of that description. And if you’re a parent, you’ll want to be aware of the possibilities of a new app available for smartphone known as Color. This article via CNN, New Color app promotes mobile voyeurism, and this video by Kim Komando will tell you what you need to know.

People: I soon plan to begin reading Eugene Peterson’s memoir The Pastor. David Swanson’s post entitled “Crowds are a worse danger, far worse, than drink or sex” tells me I will encounter classic Peterson when I do so: engaging, thought-provoking, moving, and persuasive.

Prayer: Tony Campolo and Jeff Dunn, respectively, grapple with two of the biggest questions folks have about prayer and it’s good to see them do so in Does It Pay to Pray for Healing? and Does Jesus Really Mean It?

Singing: If you examined 28 hymnals published in the United States since the late 1800’s by the six largest mainline denominations (and their main predecessor bodies) and tallied up the most commonly occurring songs, what songs do you think would be included in all of them? There were thirteen. Steve Thorngate’s post ‘The Gold Old Hymns’ Defined will put you in the know.  And I have to wonder, come the end of this century, what would be the most commonly sung songs in Christendom? Have we even heard any of them yet? God knows.

The “ain’t that just cool” department: You won’t be disappointed if you watch the three minute animated video on Vimeo from NPR entitled The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See. We live in an amazing world created by an amazing God. You might want to watch this video with your children (of any age).